Senate Okays Funds for Nuclear Weapons Research

Article excerpt

THE REPUBLICAN-LED House and Senate are at odds over whether to fund new nuclear weapons initiatives proposed by the Bush administration. The Senate's fiscal year 2004 energy and water appropriations bill, approved Sept. 16, funds continued research on the controversial nuclear earth penetrator, accelerated nuclear test readiness, and exploration of new weapons technologies. Meanwhile, the House version, approved July 18, makes considerable cuts to these items. (See ACT, September 2003.) The differences will be hammered out in a House-Senate conference, likely to take place in October.

The administration has been encouraging Congress to modernize the nuclear arsenal for some time. More recently, a Sept. 11 "Statement of Administration Policy" sent to the Senate prior to the appropriations vote noted that full funding for nuclear research programs "will help lay the foundation for transforming the fnjation's Cold War era nuclear stockpile into a modern deterrent suited for the 21st century." A post-vote letter from Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham to GOP Sens. Pete Domenici (N.M.) and John Warner (Va.) praised the Senate for keeping the president's nuclear weapons initiatives in the bill and urged the senators to ensure the measures are sustained in conference with the House.

Attempts by Democratic senators to block the measures largely fell short. An amendment on the floor by Sens. …